Come to the River: An Early American Gathering

Come to the River: An Early American Gathering

by Jeannette Sorrell


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Come to the River: An Early American Gathering

A listener might reasonably approach Come to the River: An Early American Gathering, performed by the Cleveland-based Baroque orchestra Apollo's Fire, with some trepidation. Some individual classical performers have the instincts to make a convincing transition to folk music, but it seems harder for ensembles, as evidenced by the Boston Camerata's albums of early American popular songs, sung with the polished elegance appropriate to a Haydn mass, and without a glimmer of spontaneity or pleasure. Jeannette Sorell, founder and director of Apollo's Fire, has very good instincts. The album is a total delight, performed with the highest musical standards, which in this case includes attention to living folk traditions, performing with an improvisatory freedom, and communicating a passionate investment in the emotions of the music, whether the goofy high spirits of "Nobody but the Baby," or the keening sorrow of "The Three Ravens."" (It certainly helps that Sorrell spent part of her childhood in rural Virginia and heard some of this music performed very close to its cultural roots.) The added value of having a group of such sophistication perform songs created as popular entertainment is the exceptional beauty of the singing and playing, and the inventiveness of the arrangements, which in every case enhances the original tunes. Soloists Sandra Simon, Abigail Haynes Lennox, Scott Mello, and Paul Shipper are absolutely stellar, and their unmannered singing is thrilling in its tonal purity and emotional conviction. The program is divided into three sections: Appalachian Wagon Train, Love and Death, and Revival Meeting. The first includes mostly humorous songs performed with a wit that's likely to provoke a smile. Lost love is the theme of the second; the singing and playing, particularly that of soprano Sandra Simon, are achingly poignant. The hymns and songs of the third section come mostly from Southern shape-note singing traditions. Avie's sound is clean, clear, and atmospheric. The program recorded here received a much-deserved American Masterpieces award from the NEA in 2009. Highly recommended.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/14/2011
Label: Avie
UPC: 0822252220520
catalogNumber: 2205


  1. Dances from New England & Ireland for harpsichord
  2. Glory in the Meeting House
  3. Wild Bill Jones, song
  4. The Girl Who Broke My Heart
  5. Old Virginny, song
  6. Lark in the Morning Medley
  7. Nobody but the baby, song
  8. Appalachian Barn Dance

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